REVEALED: Georgia Sheriff John Williams campaigned on refusing to cooperate with ICE to deport illegal immigrant criminals

"We won’t be doing any type of round-ups and we won’t be contributing to that culture of fear."

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
Georgia Sheriff John Williams campaigned for office in 2020 on refusing to cooperate with Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) in deporting illegal immigrant criminals in the state.

Sheriff Williams oversees Athens-Clarke County where illegal immigrant, Jose Antonio Ibarra, has been charged with the murder of Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student at Georgia's Augusta University.

Williams declared in a 2020 interview that he has "no intention" of cooperating with ICE detainers. ICE places detainers on illegal immigrants who have been arrested on criminal charges, per the New York Post.

"It is not my intention, when elected sheriff, to cooperate with those detainers," said Sheriff Williams in an interview with Athens Political Nerds.

"I see it as the sheriff’s responsibility, any law enforcement, to protect and serve the community," Williams continued.

The sheriff explained that cooperating with ICE to help detain criminal illegal immigrants would not be of service to the community.

"We can’t help with a culture of fear in our community and expect our community to respond and help us in situations, because the fact is that a lot of law enforcement is based around community support," said Williams.

"Building relationships is key and if we're antagonizing people because they are undocumented, then they built that fear in them, and they’re not likely to come to us — not only when we need their help, but when they need our help," he explained. "So that’s not something that we’d be doing. We won’t be doing any type of round-ups and we won’t be contributing to that culture of fear."

"We want people to respect the police, but we also want them to trust us," added Williams.

Venezuelan illegal immigrant, Jose Antonio Ibarra, 26, was booked into Clarke County Jail on Saturday. He has been charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, and other criminal violations including kidnapping over the Thursday death of Laken Riley.

Riley was out for a jog on UGA's campus at the time she was allegedly attacked and killed by Ibarra, according to authorities. Authorities revealed that Ibarra illegally entered the US through El Paso, Texas in September 2022.

Ibarra reportedly "disfigured" Riley's skull. Police said they found evidence consistent with blunt force trauma to the head.

In addition to Sheriff Williams, Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz was heckled at a press conference discussing Laken's death. Girtz took the opportunity to downplay the city's "sanctuary status" for illegal immigrants.
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